Whether you've been living in Scarsdale for 10 years or 10 minutes, it’s unlikely that you haven’t seen or heard of Child’s Play. Located in the heart of Scarsdale Village right next to the train station, it's pretty hard to miss this local gem's bright blue awning.
I remember coming to Scarsdale in 5th grade and visiting the toy shop whenever I could. From magic tricks to gag gifts and comics, Scarsdale's Child’s Play, Ltd. always seemed to have something that would catch my eye. I was in the store the other day and was still temped to blow my allowance. And according to Bonnie Ernst, who opened the store in 1982, I’m not the only one. “Our toys cover a range of ages 'birth' to 'I'll never grow up,'” she said.
Ernst opened Scarsdale Child's Play, Ltd. after she saw an opportunity to fill a market void for a local toy store. She initially specialized in American-made toys and imported toys from around the world, but now both American and imported toys are made in China, according to Ernst. Because of this, Ernst is well informed regarding the safety of the toys in her shop. “Everything I sell has been double-tested for paint, lead, plastic content, etc.,” she said.
The store itself is a chaotic wonderland, with high ceiling and toys everywhere — a dream come true for any child. Carrying stacks upon stacks of board games, dolls, action figues and stuffed animals, you name the toy and it’s probably dangling 10 feet above your head. Conveniently, a gigantic mountain of stuffed animals also serves as steps, allowing the clerk to bring down out-of-reach items to customers.
The sleepaway camp scene is also a large part of Scarsdale Child’s Play, Ltd.'s business. If you’ve seen their display windows in the summer, you know that almost every major sleepaway camp's name is included on the window.
“When I first opened in Scarsdale in the summer, I realized there were no toys allowed at Scarsdale pool," Ernst said. "I had to think about what I would do for the summer. My daughters always went to sleepaway camp, and I would spend the whole summer looking for things to send them. So I decided to have everything in one place. No one was doing camp packages or knew what to put in them. I started suggesting what to send (jacks, Whoopee cushions, stationery, pens, signing pillows, etc.) and from that grew a camp package business."
So what are some of Bonnie Ernst’s favorite toys right now?
“For children 2 1/2 years and up, the 'Build a Road' is a great toy. I also like 'Magnatiles' for the same ages," Ernst said. "Puzzles and games are a favorite — I order the traditional as well as the new. One of the Ravensburger games, 'Rivers, Roads and Rails,' is a fun game for 5-years-old and up. Another is 'Race to the Roof.'”
Ernst said that she enjoys getting to know different generations of customers. “I am always happy to hear that people have fond memories of buying their first doll or Lego set and collecting stickers, or showing me the arts and crafts they finished from a kit I sold them,” Ernst said.
So what does Bonnie think of Scarsdale after all these years?
“This village is a great place to work. The people are friendly and the other stores are mostly family owned, so the customer service is always great,” Ernst said. “As you can tell, I love what I do!”
Scarsdale Child's Play, Ltd. is located on 6 Spencer Place, Scarsdale. Contact them at 914-723-4396 or visit their website.